The Beginner's Guide to Blue Exorcistby James Beckett, Jan 11th 2017
A little less than six years ago, A-1 Pictures released their adaptation of Kazue Katō's hit shonen series, Blue Exorcist. The series chronicled the adventures of Rin and Yukio Okumura, two twin brothers that work as demon-hunting Exorcists, climbing the ranks of True Cross Academy while also having to deal with their true natures as Satan's spawn. The series proved popular, despite diverging from the manga material roughly a dozen episodes in, finishing off the first season with its own original plotline, while the manga has continued to this day.
This winter, A-1 Pictures is picking their anime adaptation back up with Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga, continuing right where the anime split from the source material and ignoring all the anime-original content. Since it's been quite a while since that first season aired, now is the perfect time to catch up with Rin, Yukio, and the other members of True Cross Academy, as they continue their fight against the hordes of the underworld. You should be able to watch the first fifteen episodes of Blue Exorcist's first season (where the manga material ends) and then jump straight to this new season, but in case you don't have the time for all that, here's everything you need to know!
It all begins 16 years ago, on the gruesome evening that has come to be known as the Blue Night. This is a world where the land of humanity (Assiah) is in a state of constant, secret war with the world of specters, spirits, and demons (Gehenna). On the Blue Night, the border between these worlds was shattered by none other than Satan himself; priests, monks, and exorcists all over Japan were consumed by the Devil's telltale blue fire as they desperately worked to fend him off. On that same night, two boys were born, Rin and Yukio Okumura. Rin was engulfed in blue flame, signaling not only that these boys were of Satan's lineage, but that Rin in particular has been cursed with demonic power. In an effort to save the twins from their fates, Rin's power was sealed, and the brothers were sent to live with the world's most powerful Exorcist, Shin Fujimoto.
16 years later, Rin knows nothing of his demonic heritage. A wayward and troublesome boy, he constantly lives in fear of his own inexplicable inner rage. Though his brother and adoptive father try to guide him, he seems destined to disappoint them. One day, however, demonic forces conspire to reveal the true power hidden away inside of Rin, unleashing his demonic heritage.
Father Fujimoto reveals that not only was Rin the spawn of Satan, but his demonic powers have only ever been kept in check by the power of the Koma Sword, aka Kurikara. If Rin were ever to draw the blade, he would cast away his humanity and become a demon. Seeing his chance to strike, Satan possesses the body of Fujimoto, forcing Rin to draw the blade and become a demon to save his father's life. Despite his valiant efforts, Rin fails in his fight against the Devil, losing his adoptive father in the process.
Emboldened by rage, Rin vows to learn the ways of Exorcism and defeat Satan firsthand. In order to do that, he must join the ranks of the prestigious True Cross Academy. He gets invited there by the school's headmaster, Mephisto Pheles. (Get it?) A demonic relative of Satan himself, Mephisto has seemingly defected to the side of the Exorcists, though his true motives remain a mystery. Though he helps Rin in his journey to become an exorcist, he seems equally intent on unlocking Rin's full potential as Satan's demonic progeny, even if it means putting Rin directly in harm's way to do so.
Now a full-fledged Exorcist-in Training, Rin must master the path of the Exorcist if he ever hopes to conquer the literal demons that stain his past. Fortunately, an Exorcist is only as good as his team, and Rin is accompanied by a number of strong allies:
Rin's twin brother, who has already completed his training and become the youngest person to achieve the rank of Exorcist. Despite being Rin's twin, he lacks any inherent demonic powers, though exposure to his brother left him able to see demons and spirits at a young age. Harnessing his fears, he has become an excellent gunsmith and a capable demon hunter. His skills have even landed him the role of teaching the newest batch of Exorcist recruits (including Rin). Though their father's death and Rin's demonic powers have put them at odds, Rin and Yukio remain brothers to the end, and Yukio has gone above and beyond to help Rin hide his secret from the world and master his demonic powers. In the parlance of the Exorcists, Yukio acts as both a Dragoon and a Doctor, using his gunplay and his knowledge of medicine to win the day in battle.
Outside of his own brother, Shiemi is the first true friend Rin makes following the death of his father. Initially, Shiemi came across as a sickly girl who was racked with grief following her grandmother's death. In actuality, she was being cursed by an evil spirit, which Rin and Yukio banished in order to save her life. Seeking new friends and a fresh start, she follows Rin into training to become an Exorcist. Though she struggles at first to find her place, Rin's caring and earnest personality win her the trust and friendship of the other trainees. Her lifelong passion for gardening makes her an excellent candidate for becoming a Doctor, and she also discovers potential for learning to be a Tamer, an Exorcist who summons spirits of their own to do battle against their enemies. Shiemi's spirit is an adorable little plant sprite named Nee, which can produce healing herbs or attack her opponents with an overgrowth of vines when needed.
Ryuji is a brash and headstrong monk, embittered by the collapse of his family's order in the wake of the Blue Night. Initially Rin's biggest rival, the two eventually bond over their mutual desire to get their revenge on Satan. Even though he can come across as arrogant and standoffish, it's mostly a front for the deep insecurities he holds after years of the dejection and shame brought down on his family. Despite his posturing, he's a loyal and steadfast friend, one of Rin's most reliable allies. He's practicing to be a Dragoon and an Aria, the latter of which uses their knowledge of biblical verse and chants to hold demonic forces at bay.
Easily the most antagonistic and brash of the group, Izumo was described by one member of the team as “all of the tsun, none of the dere.” While this initially proves accurate, Izumo does eventually come around as someone who genuinely cares about her friends, even if she can be terrible at showing it. Shiemi was the first of the core cast to try and befriend her, though Izumo initially uses the opportunity to take advantage of Shiemi's kindness and have her run errands. A close call with a demonic attack proves to Izumo that she can't keep going it alone, however, and she eventually becomes more willing to act as a team player. Izumo is a talented Tamer, summoning the twin foxes of the goddess Inari to do her bidding in battle.
Konekomaru (the bald one) and Renzo Shima (pink-hair) are childhood friends of Ryuji's who served with him in his temple. Like Ryuji, both Konekomaru and Renzo are training to be Arias. Good-natured and loyal, they are almost always seen accompanying Ryuji as solid and dependable allies. Renzo in particular is a bit of a flirt and never the bravest on the battlefield, but Konekomaru has enough sense to keep him in line when the going gets tough.
The most recent addition to the team, Shura Kirigakure isn't a student at all, but a Vatican Agent in disguise, sent to keep an eye on Mephisto and eliminate any Satanic threat posed on the school. A former student and friend of Father Fujimoto, Shura's lackadaisical attitude masks incredible skill as a swordswoman and demon-killer. While initially out to kill Rin, the young boy's devotion to avenging her father convinces her to help him instead. Now she is another of the Exorcists' teachers, also training Rin in his swordsmanship and helping him conceal his demonic secret.
As of the last animated manga material, Rin has been forced to make a very difficult decision. During a class camping trip, the Exorcists are attacked out of nowhere by the demon Amaimon, a violent figure acting under Mephisto's inscrutable orders. When Amaimon goes too far and begins seriously harming the students, Rin has no choice but to draw his blade and unleash his hellish abilities in full view of all his friends. Though Yukio and Shura have been helping him keep his secret for this long, the cat's out the bag now. Though Rin's gambit saves his friends' lives, all of them are now incredibly wary of the truth behind Rin's birth, and with new threats on the rise, now is the worst possible time for the Exorcists to stop trusting one another.
While the original anime goes off on its own story after this, Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga picks up immediately after these events. How will Rin's friends cope with what they've learned? Will Rin be able to master his powers and gain back everyone's trust? What new threats loom on the horizon, and how will the Exorcists overcome them? It's been a long time since these questions were first posed, but now, six years later, we finally have the chance to learn the answers.
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